El Paso, TX — “Isolated incident,” “a few bad apples” — these are just some of the terms used to downplay occurrences of police misconduct. “This officer is not representative of all police,” we are told when a serial rapist cop is exposed. However, when looking at actual numbers, these incidents appear to be anything but isolated. Two recent police officer arrests last week in El Paso, Texas — both for sexual assault — back this point up quite powerfully.
Last Friday morning, a four-year veteran with the El Paso Police Department was arrested on sexual assault charges. According to the charges, while officer Brian Michael Lujan was out protecting and serving the citizens of El Paso, he was also raping them.
According to officials, Lujan’s charges and subsequent arrest stem from the rape of three separate victims who were all attacked by Lujan while he was on-duty.
According to KVIA:
The investigation stemmed from a complaint alleging criminal conduct that was filed with EPPD’s Internal Affairs Division..
Officials said two separate investigations were conducted: a Criminal Investigation by the Special Investigations Unit, and an administrative investigation by the Internal Affairs Division.
During the criminal investigation, the Department requested the assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation(F.B.I.).
The multi-agency investigations took five months to complete and shortly after 8 a.m. on Friday, police moved in to arrest their fellow officer. Lujan is currently being held on a $325,000 bond.
On top of the charge for sexual assault, Lujan was also charged with two counts of Invasive Visual Recording. The details regarding the charges have been kept from the public. However, police are asking anyone with information regarding these cases to call the El Paso Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division at (915) 212-0157.
While Lujan’s case sounds terrible by itself, his arrest is the second one within just a few days from the El Paso Police Department.
Two days before one accused rapist cop was taken off the street, another alleged sexual predator was also arrested — this time for the sexual assault of a child.
Last Wednesday, according to KVIA, detectives with the police department’s Crimes Against Children Unit arrested 46-year-old Juan Carlos Gardea, a 19-year veteran of the police department, and charged him with Sexual Assault of a Child.
Four days before arresting Gardea, his child victim came forward with the details of the alleged sexual assault.
According to the affidavit, Gardea got into bed with his victim and another small boy and began groping her buttocks and breasts.
According to Delaware Online, the complaint describes in graphic detail what the girl told investigators about how Gardea allegedly fondled and molested her, including that she was forced to inappropriately touch Gardea, who also allegedly attempted to rape her. It does not disclose what the boy was doing at the time of the alleged assault.
Immediately after it happened, the alleged victim bravely came forward to report it. The girl was interviewed by detectives specially trained in child physical and sexual abuse, the document states.
Gardea will be spared the public embarrassment of having his mugshot released, as his undercover work could potentially be compromised.
As the Free Thought Project has reported numerous times, sexual misconduct among police officers is uncomfortably common. While there hasn’t been a study showing the abuse in at least two years, the most recent numbers from 2015 paint a disturbing picture.
In a yearlong investigation of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement, The Associated Press uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault, sex crimes that included possession of child pornography, or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.
The most disturbing aspect of that investigation is the fact that the number, according to the AP, is unquestionably an undercount because it represents only those officers whose licenses to work in law enforcement were revoked, and not all states take such action. California and New York — with several of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies — offered no records because they have no statewide system to decertify officers for misconduct. And even among states that provided records, some reported no officers removed for sexual misdeeds even though cases were identified via news stories or court records.
“It’s happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country,” said Chief Bernadette DiPino of the Sarasota Police Department in Florida, who helped study the problem for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “It’s so underreported and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them.”